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'Gone Are the Days': Bisexual Perspectives on Lesbian/Feminist Literary Theory

Ann Kaloski Naylor
Feminist Review
No. 61, Snakes and Ladders: Reviewing Feminisms at Century's End (Spring, 1999), pp. 51-66
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1395573
Page Count: 16
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'Gone Are the Days': Bisexual Perspectives on Lesbian/Feminist Literary Theory
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Abstract

In this article I offer a map of recent UK and US lesbian feminist literary theory which highlights the shifting and often paradoxical interpretations of lesbian sexuality as both real and as metaphorical. I focus on two key texts which offer overviews and analysis of the field from different sides of the Atlantic, which are both accessible, in the sense of being written from the perspective of 'ordinary' lesbians, rather than structuring lesbian feminist literary criticism around traditional critical concepts, and which also, unusually, offer some (small) comment on bisexuality. These two works are Bonnie Zimmerman's Safe Sea of Women (1992), and Palmer's Contemporary Lesbian Writing (1993). I argue that lesbian/feminist literary theory offers particular constructions of sexuality which, while challenging many of the assumptions of heterosexual feminist literary theory, largely ignores the bisexual content of much lesbian fiction, and consequently glosses over some of the tricky areas of gender and sexuality difference. Through this 'les/bi' reading I hope to encourage the figure of the bisexual woman to question both constructions and deconstructions of lesbian sexuality.

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